'It seemed so surreal': Former mayor recalls how Palatine responded to Brown's tragedy
It was a 3 a.m. phone call from her top administrator that informed former Palatine Mayor Rita Mullins that her community had been changed forever.
"He said there has been a murder. Seven people have been found dead at the Brown's Chicken," Mullins recalled. "I was speechless. It seemed so surreal."
She soon encountered the harsh reality of the killings when she met with surviving family members.
"It was a very sad time, because there were children of the deceased people and two of the deceased were children themselves," she said. "(In one case) the kids had no father and no means of support."
Another family, she said, lost their son, and wanted answers.
Mullins praised the task force established to investigate the murders, although it faced harsh criticism in the years that followed. The team included Palatine police and investigators from county, state and other municipal law enforcement agencies, as well as the FBI.
"(The FBI) told me that they had never seen such a good example of how to set up a task force and to use all the tools that were available at the time," she said. "That always gave me confidence that it would be solved."
"Nothing can bring those people back or completely heal everyone's heart, but it helps to know what happened and who did this and that there are consequences," Mullins added.